‘The Entitlement Gap’ holding women back in the workplace

It’s 2021. Women are still paid less well for doing the same jobs as men. (And lets not even get into the way in which female-dominated career sectors are less well paid overall.) Why?

Earning less money makes women financially vulnerable. Women with children can find themselves in a vicious circle – they earn less money than a male partner, so they are expected to flex their careers to take on additional care for children and elderly relatives.

Often, the blame is put onto the women themselves. We’re told that women step back from their careers, that we don’t want to take on new challenges, and that we aren’t ambitious.

A new piece of research by psychologist Dr Terri Apter, our fomer Senior Tutor, interviewed 60 diverse women and identified 5 key myths about women’s career progress – and 5 ways to tackle the blocks to progress. Together with women’s empowerment organisation The Female Lead, Dr Apter is working to tackle what they call ‘The Unentitled Mindset’.

In 1994 Terri Apter reported in her work Working Women Don’t Have Wives that women were often conflicted about ambition, competition, career identity and independence. More than 25 years on, she’s seen a major change in women’s beliefs about their career. However, many of the issues of the early 1990s have now become myths holding women back.

Instead, her research shows that women are conditioned into an ‘Unentitled Mindset’ – feeling less entitled than men in all areas of their lives.

Meanwhile, the business and social system can intentionally or inadvertently exploit and benefit from this entitlement gap, which widens when we factor in women from marginalised backgrounds and intersectionality.

As the report states, “Women did not have to experience bias directly to be adversely affected by it. Witnessing bias against other women (the most common instance was expectation bias against women returning from maternity leave) discouraged some women from seeking promotion when they were considering having a family, confirmed their belief that they could not rise in this career and have children, or prompted them to think about changing their jobs.”

However, there were positive findings in the research as well. “Twenty-six percent of the participants described a time when they experienced imposter syndrome – one form of so-called internalised bias. They were, however, not deterred by imposter syndrome; instead, they worked through it by taking up the challenge to learn new skills.”

And some women found new paths around organisational bias: by setting up business for themselves. “There was high satisfaction among the women who started their own companies. Becoming an entrepreneur was a brave but exciting step.”

Read the whole report and find out more at https://www.thefemalelead.com/research